The Anti-Corruption Commission(ACC) says the Corruption Perception Index (CPI)’s indication that corruption is worsening in Zambia should not be ignored but government should take into account Transparency International’s recommendations and develop interventions to curb the vice.

At the launch of the 2019 CPI recently, TIZ chapter president Rueben Lifuka said corruption was getting worse and the country could no longer pretend that all was well.

He said Zambia dropped by a point on the CPI from 35 to 34 out of 100, saying it was the worst the country had ever performed.

But in response to query from News Diggers! regarding these revelations, Chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya said Zambians should get statistics of corruption from the Anti-Corruption Commission instead of trusting those from foreigners.

However, in a statement, Thursday, ACC acting public relations manager Dorothy Mwanza explained that the surveys which made up the CPI were not commissioned by Transparency International, but the index was a result of expert assessment by 13 institutions including Africa Development Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Bank.

She also highlighted TI’s recommendations on how Zambia could deal with corruption.

“The areas of concern that need the surveyed countries’ government attention as recommended by TI are listed below: management of conflict of interest, controlling political financing, strengthening electoral integrity, regulating lobbying activities, tackling preferential treatment and empowering citizens. According to the CPI, Zambia’s corruption perception index has not improved; was consistently at 38 from 2013 to 2016, dropped to 37 in 2017, then to 35 in 2018, and 34 in 2019. The situation is not unique to Zambia. The 2019 CPI shows that more than two thirds of the countries scored below 50 per cent,” Mwanza stated.

She stated that TI’s recommendations should not be ignored but government should use them to come up with interventions.

“As a country, Zambia, through the Anti-Corruption Commission collaborates with Transparency International Zambia Chapter in conducting the Zambia Bribe Payers Index (ZBPI) survey whose information is directly obtained from Zambian individuals that interact with public officials when seeking a service. The results from the ZBPI surveys of 2017 and 2019 revealed an increase in the overall aggregate of bribery from 10 percent in 2017 to 10.9 percent in 2019.Results from the ZBPI inform in decision making in tackling corruption through development of targeted interventions. Suffice to mention that the commission in collaboration with TI-Zambia engages the institutions whose ratings are not good to develop measures/interventions to address the identified problem areas and improve service delivery…The seventh national development plan also recognizes that the high level of corruption is another challenge that happens development in the nation. It elaborates that the fight against corruption is key to promoting good governance and integrity. The ZBPI is home grown and its results provide specific information that directly informs the government and stakeholders of points where there is need of intervention. Similarly the perception provided by the CPI should not be ignored. It is necessary for the government to interrogate the identified problematic areas (TI recommendations) and develop interventions to deal with them and lead to a desired change,” she stated.

Mwanza also gave statistics of cases which had been reported to the ACC versus those that had been investigated between 2015 and 2019, which showed a downward trajectory.

According to the statement, in 2015, 1719 cases were reported while 305 were investigated. In 2016, 1,349 cases were reported to the commission while only 273 were investigated. In 2017, 968 cases were reported, while 241 were investigated. In 2018, 980 cases were reported while 235 cases were investigated and in 2019, 745 cases were reported while 202 were investigated.

“The variation between the number of reports received and the number of cases investigated is due to the fact that some reports are authorized for corruption prevention and community education exercises. Other reports that are not corruption related are referred to relevant institutions for appropriate action. Further, some reports are non-pursuable due to lack of sufficient information,” Mwanza explained.

Meanwhile, Mwanza also highlighted some of the interventions which government had already put in place to fight corruption, among them, introduction of anti-corruption content in school curriculum and enactment of several laws to curb the vice.

“As is observed, the government is doing its part in the fight against the scourge. It is now a call upon each one of the stakeholders who include the media, the civil society, the general public and all not only to complain about corruption but play their part too in those fight with the national anti-corruption slogan, ‘a corruption free Zambia begins with me’,” stated Mwanza.